Children recovering after museum train engine catches fire



GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga - Several children are recovering after embers from a train engine burned them.

Channel 2’s Tony Thomas reported it happened on a field trip at a Gwinnett County railway museum Tuesday morning.

Those seven children are back at the day care after their field trip veered off the tracks.

The injuries were minor but authorities said it could have easily been a lot worse.

Parents arrived to pick up their children from the Loganville day care and were relieved to learn that none of the burn injuries was serious.                

“The embers either hit them on the neck, at the knees or on their arm,” Michelle Gilley of Discovery Point said.

Children and six staffers were riding a 1950s-era train in the railway museum when a smokestack on the diesel engine caught fire, sending smoke and embers into the air and onto the children.

“I responded basically because of sound, because of them crying. I myself had a(n) ember hit me and I thought I had a bee sting,” Gilley said.

The engine now sits in the maintenance yard at the museum. Seven children in all were hurt, suffering first or second-degree burns.

“Some of them had one burn injury, some had two burn injures,” Capt. Tommy Rutledge of the Gwinnett Fire Department said.

Administrator Randy Pirkle showed Thomas where the kids were riding.

“It could have been significantly worse; having a fire of any nature is a bad thing. Having a fire when you’re involved with kids is an extremely scary thing,” Pirkle said.

Pirkle said it’s the first time the engine has ever caught fire. It’s used regularly to give rides around the museum yard.

“Even though this happened, we will pull the positive out of it,” Gilley said.

The museum's maintenance volunteers will be looking at the engine later Tuesday.

Train rides at the museum are on hold until they figure out exactly what happened.